Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Recent advances in understanding mental illness and psychotic experiences

An interesting view from the psychologists as opposed to the psychiatrists: here.

A snippet on diagnostic categories:

Another way of examining the validity of diagnostic
categories involves using statistical techniques to
investigate whether people’s psychotic experiences
actually do cluster together in the way predicted by the
diagnostic approach.The results of this research have not
generally supported the validity of distinct diagnostic
categories. For example(58) the correlation amongst
psychotic symptoms has been found to be no greater than
if the symptoms are put together randomly. Similarly,59
cluster analysis – a statistical technique for assigning
people to groups according to particular characteristics –
has shown that the majority of psychiatric patients would
not be assigned to any recognisable diagnostic group.
Statistical techniques have also highlighted the extensive
overlap between those diagnosed with schizophrenia and
those diagnosed as having major affective disorder.(60,61)

The central issue in diagnosis is one of classification – the
idea that particular psychological problems cluster
together and can therefore be considered together. This
has been termed ‘carving nature at the joints’. (62) This
means that it is assumed that the problems called
‘schizophrenia’ are different from the problems called
‘bipolar disorder’ in the same way that birds are different
from reptiles.On the basis of the evidence reviewed
above, many psychologists believe that these distinctions
are invalid, that diagnostic approaches to psychological
problems do not reflect real ‘joints’ in nature.


Marian said...

If you give them a just somewhat critical look, all psych-diagnoses work according to a highest common denominator-principle. Almost any kind of behaviour could/can get labelled in terms of psych-labels, "symptoms" are interchangeable, and the same person gets labelled "bipolar" by one shrink, "depressed" by the next, and "schizophrenic" by the third. And do any of these terms actually help to a better understanding of behaviour? "Catatonic" didn't help me to understand a thing. "A rabbit facing a snake" did.

Thanks for the link. Looks interesting.

Abysmal Musings said...

Ta Marian. You're winning round a convert here. The more I can look back with some objectivity, the more ridiculous the whole shebang seems.

Have to see the psych tomorrow. Until I get my driving licence back I'm going to continue pretending to be the good boy. After that... :-)